Weekend Movie Takeaway: ‘Avatar 2’, ‘The Batman’ and ‘Mission: Impossible’ Set To Resume Production in Lands Far, Far Away
July 7, 2020
It's almost impossible to know just how deep into the COVID-19 crisis we are, with certain parts of the country beginning to re-open amidst skyrocketing numbers, and other parts walking back plans for societal re-engagement after re-opening led to spikes in positive tests. But one thing we do know for certain is that the situation continues to rock the business of screen storytelling to an unprecedented degree.
As the reserves of filmed narrative begin to run low, various productions are gearing up for a re-start, albeit in somewhat specific circumstances. Here are the major developments from the past week:
We previously reported on the Michael Bay-produced pandemic thriller Songbird, which is planning to shoot in Los Angeles. Last week, the production was hit by a “Do Not Work” order from actors’ union SAG-AFTRA, an order which was rescinded shortly thereafter, giving the production the green light. The kerfuffle highlights the uncertainty around what is expected of productions under these extraordinary circumstances, and just how tricky it can be to get all interested parties on the same page.
Songbird aside, most of the productions that seem ready to get into the full swing of things are based offshore.
New Zealand has had great success in all-but-eliminating the Coronavirus, thanks to significant lockdown measures and strict conditions at the border. It has been a while since any non-residents were allowed to enter the country, but exceptions are now being made for people working on several high-profile productions being shot in the country.
Although they will have to submit to a fourteen day quarantine, workers on a raft of productions including Avatar 2, Amazon's Lord of the Rings series, and Netflix's Cowboy Beebop show (along with a Power Rangers series) are being granted entry into the country so production can resume.
Similar exemptions are being made for people working on several big movies being shot in England. The latest Mission: Impossible sequel, is set to resume production in September, with precautionary measures in place.
Dispensations are also being made for blockbuster productions The Batman and Jurassic World: Dominion, both of which were being shot in England when the crisis brought everything to a halt.
All of these productions will be extremely cautious in how they allow workers to interact with each other, and it's difficult to imagine any kissing scenes happening. With such large amounts of money involved, they'll be doing everything they can to avoid another shutdown.
The impact of COVID-19 on the world of film narrative has given rise to speculation about the future of filmmaking, and one company is getting ahead of the problem by casting a robot named Erica as the lead in a new sci-fi film.
It seems like an extreme measure to take to get around the problem of exposing actors to harmful viruses, but it could end up being the first step towards artificial intelligence-driven narratives becoming more commonplace. It is indeed a brave new world we’re a part of.
Written by: Dominic CorryDominic Corry is a Los Angeles-based film critic, writer, journalist and broadcaster. Raised in New Zealand, he is also the West Coast editor of Letterboxd, the social network for movie lovers. For more of his film writing, see his website www.TheGoodInMovies.com